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13th April 2011, 3:01pm
New book offers lean solutions to food sector
Mike and publisher A masterclass in ‘Lean Manufacturing in the Food Industry’ at the University of Lincoln was the fitting event for the launch of the first book to present the principles of lean manufacturing specifically for application in the food industry.

The Handbook of Lean Manufacturing in the Food Industry is written by Michael Dudbridge, Principal lecturer in Food Manufacturing and Automation at the University, who is based at the National Centre for Food Manufacturing at the Holbeach campus.

The principles of lean manufacturing – increasing efficiency, reducing waste, lowering costs and improving control – may be applied to any industry. However, the food industry is unique, and creates unique demands. The political, social and economic importance of food is unrivalled by any other form of produce, as is the scrutiny to which the manufacture of food is subjected.

For the food industry, lean manufacturing is not simply a cost-saving strategy, but is directly linked to issues of sustainability, the environment, ethics and public accountability. Many of these issues were addressed at the event, which included a presentation from Improve – the strategic organisation for training in the Food and Drink sector in the UK.

Mr Dudbridge, said: “For many years I have managed food production and packing operations in a variety of factories around the UK. I started to think ‘There must be a better way than this’ back in the early 1980's and set out on my personal exploration and learning from wherever I could.

“I am a scientist in background so the logical, planned and controlled approach of lean manufacturing started to appeal as it also reflected the importance of people in the manufacturing process. The combination of efficient and low cost manufacturing with a high level of employee engagement and involvement became the way that I managed the factories I was lucky enough to be responsible for.

“Five years ago I moved to the University of Lincoln to head up a project to create the National Centre for Food Manufacturing. This move gave me time to reflect on what I had achieved and also gave me the opportunity to meet with a large number of companies and their management teams. It became apparent as I visited many factories that the issues I had worked on and improved using lean techniques were still present.

"I decided that one way of helping the people in the food factories was to produce a handbook that could support the teams trying to make things better.

“The Handbook of Lean Manufacturing in the Food Industry is written in a way that makes the techniques of lean come alive for people in food operations and provides a source of ideas to make food factories more efficient and more rewarding places to work.”

Published by Wiley-Blackwell, the book offers a modern perspective on best practice, points the way to fewer breakdowns, reduced quality faults, improved teamwork and increased profits. With a focus on operations management and new process development, the book is accessible and easy to read, and is complemented by a wealth of practical examples drawn from industry.

Wiley-Blackwell’s Commissioning Editor, Andrew Harrison, said: “Mike’s book is innovative, easy to read, and focuses on the practical challenges of lean manufacturing. With more and more companies facing new pressures to become lean, the book is both a jumping on point for those who are new to the principles of lean manufacturing, and a timely wake-up call to the wider food industry.”

For more information or to order the Handbook of Lean Manufacturing in the Food Industry
(ISBN: 978-1-4051-8367-3) see

For more information about the National Centre for Food Manufacturing and the Holbeach campus see

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